In search of Blue dollars

Argentina is quite the interesting place at the moment. Inflation is rampant. Literally you can go to the grocery store one week, and the next week the price of a vegetable has increased 5-10 pesos a kilo. Even more so, there are basically two markets for currency. There is the official rate, and the black market rate. These rates make a huge difference when it comes to spending here. The official rate is 8.6 ARP to 1 USD while the black market rate (also known as blue dollar rate) is 13. That is over a 50% increase on the official rate. Argentina is massively expensive if you don’t get the blue dollar.

So, how do you find this black market? Well in Buenos Aires it is fairly easy. However, you do need to look out for fake bills. At first, I thought I’d just use the ATM. How expensive can Argentina really be?

Man was I naïve. It hurt my wallet to do anything in Argentina. So, now that I was here in Cordoba, I set out in search of Blue dollars. I spoke to a german girl staying at the same place and she told me of a guy (mafia looking guy) that would exchange at the black market rate. So I set out in search of this guy. Normally, like if you were in Buenos Aires, you wouldn’t be able to walk down one road without hearing ‘cambio, cambio’ being whispered to anyone who looked like a foreigner. Cordoba, was a different story. I was struggling. I walked around the block about 5 times. I thought I saw an exchange go on but didn’t have the courage to just go up and ask. So I gave up for the day. I went to the grocery store, bought a little, and cried while I paid the official rate. Tomorrow was a new day.

Plaza San Martin in Cordoba, Argentina. Best place in Cordoba to find the Blue dollar rate.

Plaza San Martin in Cordoba, Argentina. Best place in Cordoba to find the Blue dollar rate.

So the following day, I set out again for Blue dollars. I walked around some more, hoping to hear those words. Then, as I was getting ready to do another walk around the block, I heard a man leaning against a pole, whisper ‘cambio’. I asked cuanto and he said doce setenta (12,70). Vale. It was good enough for me. He walked me around the corner where there was actually a line. It looked like locals so that made me feel more comfortable. It was a newspaper stand. He asked how much and I said cien. He took the $100 USD and threw it in a box. He then counted out 1270 pesos. I recounted to be sure. They had watermarks so I was comfortable.

I walked away smiling. I had participated in my first black market deal. I felt triumphant. I got ice cream to celebrate. And to also ensure the $100 pesos I just received actually worked. It did.

Who ever thought I would be looking for the black market in Argentina? It is a crazy world we live in.